McCloughan Leaving For Family Reasons

Scot McCloughan, who as recently as last Wednesday night was the 49ers' general manager, sent a brief text message to Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News today, that read, "It was a great run. Players I brought in will win division for next couple of years."

McCloughan's prediction might very well come true, but his words - especially the way he used the past tense when evoking his time with the Niners - sure don't like those of a man who'll be back with the organization anytime soon.

He hinted - a little - on why he felt the need to step of a way from the Niners in an interview with NFL SIRIUS radio, where he said, "Family needs to come first and I lost sight of that with my position at the 49ers." He went on to add, "I will be back in league at some point and be very successful."

Notice he said, "the league" and not "the 49ers." Clearly both sides are moving on.

There has been much speculation over the nature of the personal problems that prompted McCloughan to make the decision he did. Some reports suggest he was forced out by the team, while others say he was the one who asked to leave. McCloughan's agent, Peter Schaffer told Matthew Barrows of The Sacramento Bee that "Scot McCloughan is not resigning as general manger of the San Francisco 49ers," however, which suggests that he could be looking for some kind of compensation for the team.

As poorly timed as this news is for the team, the worse thing they could do would be to spend time and resources looking at a general manager candidates from the outside right now. The focus needs to be on the draft, which is only five weeks away, and on courting free agents. Trent Baalke, who had been McCloughan's right hand man is the team's director of player personnel at the college level, so it would make sense for him to be the loudest voice in the draft room, though undoubtedly Head Coach Mike Singletary, who has been much more involved in prospect evaluation this year, will want to chime in as well.

McCloughan had the cachet to defend his convictions - such as when he demanded that the team draft LB Patrick Willis with the tenth pick in 2007. Will Baalke be as bold as his mentor was? If he and Singletary have a difference of opinion as the draft clock is ticking down, who will have the final say?

Meanwhile, Tom Gamble, the team's director of pro personnel, figures to handle the free agency side of things for the time being, but again that's just a guess.

How much say will Team President Jed York ultimately want in personnel matters? How much power will he give Paraag Marathe, his top lieutenant? When McCloughan was around the team's organizational depth chart wasn't brimming with the creme-de-la-creme of team executives in their respective fields, but at least the roles were fairly well defined. Now, it's not so straight forward.

Eventually decisions will be made and statements will be put out. Some feathers are bound to get ruffled and egos bruised. At this point such a thing is inevitable. McCloughan made it clear that the ball is now in the 49ers court as far talking to the public and so far they've said nothing.

Free agent guard Chester Pitts visited the team over the past two days, but hasn't signed yet. Too bad. If he did, it would've been really interesting to see who introduced him.

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